SELect Progress Report

SELect

We exist to create a world where advisors are positioned to normalize social and emotional learning with college students who are struggling to persist for non-academic reasons.

SELect is a social and emotional learning tool. For students, it’s a questionnaire where they can reflect on their current non-academic obstacles. For advisors, it’s a report that prioritizes which conversations to have with students. It is used ideally to spark conversation in face-to-face meetings, the human element of mentorship.

Using SELect will provoke more conversations around “root cause” obstacles in a student’s personal life — especially if the student is ready to speak up, but doesn’t know how.

Movie Non Trad student

Overview

  • Key metric: Engagement and use by local partner organizations. We’ve had participation from 2 college persistence programs and pilots tested with 15+ students.
  • What’s going on: Piloting a mechanical turk MVP.
  • Support area: We are looking for more organizations and offices with diverse advising approaches to pilot SELect.

Over the last week we passed our pilot into the hands of partners and we are currently midway through receiving the results of the iteration. We have received questionnaire responses from students, and now turn towards advisors to synthesize and interpret the results, ultimately implementing the behavioral insights in conversation or contacting students about big flags

Next steps

  • Complete the advisor phase of our pilot
  • Continue to build relationships with other growing partnerships
  • Network our tool further to capture validation outside of our immediate ecosystem in Austin

How you can help

If you are part of an advising team or know someone who is part of a college advising office, we want you to participate. We have built out several versions of our pilot including a low-touch version using real student data from other orgs. We want to see how your advisors interact with this information and how it might affect behavioral change in your office and your practice.

Please get in touch with…

Me – zev.powell@ac4d.com

Cristina– cristina.suazo@ac4d.com

Adam – apruem@gmail.com

Design Strategy Feature Brief for Balance Bank

After nearly 4 months of research, prototyping, user testing, and development sizing my mobile banking app is ready for a name and a few mock-ups. With the strategy brief we are turning our vision and product inside out, considering our stakeholders to be outside of the product team, with little knowledge about the details of what the team is building (Note for new blog readers: This is a conceptual client and team, we are creating these projects independently as students). The document is a simple report of vision. This is the first time I am being asked to be persuasive about my work so far. My goal is to convince the audience that the path forward looks like this and to help participate in the evolution of the product with the first, and future, releases.

The brief itself takes a similar structure to a pitch, perhaps a little less narrative and more structured and formulaic. I present behavioral insights from research, a value proposition based on what we heard in testing, a project roadmap that depicts how the team will achieve benchmark releases, and mock-ups of what the screens will look like.

Since I am delivering the brief to a hypothetical bank that is adding a mobile banking app to their digital experience, it is time for a name and a brand. I went with Balance, a brand that could strike a chord with users that want a desirable and user-centered banking life.

logo

Behavioral Insights

Throughout user testing we conducted very technical click-throughs with participants. Luckily occasionally things would go off script or we would have a more insightful discussion about their relationship with finance and banking in their lives. I went back through some of the introductions of my interviews and found some quotes that, when synthesized, cobbled together latent fears and hopes that bank customers shared. 03_Insight 1 04_Insight 2 05_Insight 3

I interpreted that participants were telling me that they all acknowledge that banking can live in our hands while we pass through the world, but that the relationship they foster—or don’t—with their apps, by habit can be compelling or compulsive.

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Roadmaps

If you look back to last week in the AC4D blogs you will see a plethora of reflection and documentation of product roadmaps. We created those versions with out team in mind. We wanted everyone to understand their role and how best to fit into the agile team for this app release. I cleaned these roadmaps up for the brief.

08_Roadmap Written Copy

Product Mock-ups

Because our course has been heavily wireframe focused it didn’t leave me much time over the last week to turn my 100+ screens into beautiful colorful mock-ups. I don’t think it is common for a strategy brief to refer to detailed design process. But I felt the need to show a couple flows of wireframes to communicated all of the capabilities of the features I would be demonstrating. In this case I did include a page that primes the audience to understand wireframes and their iterative value with the higher-fidelity mock-ups.

Mockup Copy

Capabilities

Describing the essential purpose of each capability with a screen and a brief description was difficult for me. I am not sure if I was successful at communicating the value of the design decisions I made. But for the sake of absorbability I had to cut down all of my detailed work into single pages.

18_Sign in screen Copy 20_accounts view screen copy 22_Transfer within screens Copy 24_deposit screens copy 26_Zelle Screen Copy 28_Menu Copy

 

Glimpse of The Future

A sign in and a deposit feature and a transfer feature and a menu and a payment feature all have to exist before you can chase down the parts of your vision that differentiate Balance Mobile from other banking apps. That’s why the closing page of the document primes the audience for what is to come, and that is a financial modeling feature aimed to build compelling human centered tools for financial well-being.

29_future copy

Learnings

This has been one of the very few times I’ve put significant time into a printing project. I dedicated a certain amount to each page looking quality, I always find that they print differently than I expect.

This process was a good way to reflect on the effort and tools I learned along the way to creating the brief and the project itself. It took a moment for me to believe I could create something cohesive out of the fast-paced making of the last 4 months.

Thanks for reading along!

I will leave a link to the full PDF here.

ZP_StrategyBrief

 

Hi, I’m Zev, I’m a tech journalist, and I f**ked up big time (A theory role play)

(Scenario) I’m running an experiment on myself for an upcoming article I’m writing on the power of technology. I will be ridding myself of my iPhone and discussing what this means for me, my place in society, and what it reveals about the creators of our most beloved smartphones.

In doing research I’ve read up on critical thought around technology’s power and the ethics behind it. I read essays and articles, wrote a brief summary of each piece, pulled quotes, and jotted down a takeaway of how I believed the author’s words related to my experiment with the iPhone.

Then my computer crashed

(Real Zev) In my interactive presentation to class I had students pair up so that each duo was assigned to the lost quote of 1 of 7 authors. I had a hold of the authors and the brief summary of the article, and my peers were tasked with matching their quotes with the author’s voice and reason.

Below is my synthesis of how the my research and synthesis came together as I formed my my critical opinions about the iPhone in society, the iPhone of individual users, and the creators of the iPhone.

Slide deck of quote pairing presentation

Rough Cutting and Roadmapping

A brief update; this quarter in Product Management we have been developing our mobile banking apps that we redesigned in wireframes last quarter in our UI course. The major themes so far have been applying real world constraints to the otherwise conceptual designs we created.

After having met with developers to estimate and document what our hero flows would cost in time and man hours, we are now making the hard strategic decisions of how to thin-slice our wireframes so that they resemble a rough cute MVP that is not only minimally viable, but also reasonably desirable. Tearing down an ideal state is psychologically conflicting as we are having to hold at arm’s length all of the vision we put into our wires.

The balance I’m trying to achieve is that between sacrificing desirability and optimizing the development efficiency of functionality. An app can’t, and shouldn’t, be a sad resemblance of its future self. With good foresight, product roadmapping, and communication across product development teams, an MVP can be good enough.

Untitled presentation

After contemplating my north star and doing research on turnkey technologies in banking features, I prioritized what would be developed first and foremost—starting with accounts, deposits, and transfers. These are the custom features that a banking app can’t go without. They are the most utility features you could need in a mobile app.

  1. User has to check their accounts on-the-go.
  2. User needs to deposit a check without going to bank branch.
  3. User needs to transfer money from one account to the other.

All of the other features I would group in a configuration of Person to Person (P2P) and Person to Business (P2B) payment capabilities. Zelle already does this and there are turnkey vendors that you can partner with to skip the customization.

With these key structures in place I returned to my estimate sheet to review the details of how I could get my MVP, as assigned, launched within 20 business days.

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I’m going to be budgeting a significant amount of my extra time for my second developer to be scoping and managing the integration of Zelle with resellers such as Fiserv. While customization is very limtited it will be a sufficient short-term solution.

Product Roadmap (30-day MVP)

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As described above, the second developer will be dedicated mostly to slow-burning capabilities that have been estimated to take longer and/or more hands-on management. This opens up the first developer to hop from one core feature to the next so that we have a barebones delivery by the end of April.

Product Roadmap (45 days) 

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Both developers will switch their focus to the customized P2P capabilities that are being covered by Zelle in the interim. It isn’t until the 90 day launch that the product will be able to scoping what it takes to add more custom features in the API provided by Zelle or if a new approach needs to be taken.

Product Roadmap (90 days)

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Developer 2 will return to scoping the customization and integration of our own P2P and P2B capabilities while Developer 1 maintains focus on the tedious bill paying feature.

Rough Cutting

While there have been many cuts made to the app for the 30-day MVP, there are few wires that require adjusting. The major difference is that I will temporarily scratching the wallet homepage for a standard accounts homepage with a navigation footer.

Rough Cut

Learnings

While I am learning a lot about the workflow and methodologies of product management, I am keen to participate in an agile team that has hierarchy and defined roles. I want to know what responsibility the PO and dev and scrum master all have to contribute to all of these decisions I’m making myself as a student of design.

 

 

Progress Update: Optimizing Effective Advising

We are building a tool to assist advisors of non-traditional college students broach the topics of self-advocacy and social and emotional learning. Our tool is a questionnaire that optimizes the short time advisors have with their students, making sure that the sensitive root causes of problems are the center of the conversation. 

This week our team focused on our end-to-end solution in order that we can hone in on the most appropriate MVP to launch next month:

  • We began a first iteration of a service blueprint. The visual artifact has already begun to help us define the nuts and bolts of our product; how it works; how it is adopted; how it works as a business model. Further iterations will continue to nail down how the product will offer the most impact to stakeholders in the college persistence industry.
  • We began mockups of what our questionnaire will look like from the student’s side as well as the dashboard the advisors will pull up on their computers, displaying a profile of student’s responses and predictive analysis of flagged topics to discuss in the meeting.
  • We began work on a customer journey map so that we can reconnect with the empathy we developed during our design research process to ensure that the product lands with the most meaningfulness as possible.

As described, these artifacts are not only helping demonstrate to the outside world what we are building, they are constantly helping us determine the minutia that helps the product take shape in our hands.

This coming week we will:

  • Pitch our end-to-end solution and spend time creating a narrative around the delivery.
  • Further iterate on the fidelity of artifacts to support our pitch.
  • Continue organizing ourselves around the agile Kanban sprint methodology to get the most out of each week.

How you can help:

We are arranging time slots to further research what is currently being used in the advising market as software for student databases and tracking academic success through the college lifecycle. If you are familiar with, or could connect us with, college advisors and/or college persistence organizations we would love to hear about the tools and software you currently use. Please contact us at cristina.suazo@ac4d.com or apruem@gmail.com.

Ought or Ought Not

A lot has happened since our quarter 1 course in design theory. To be specific, we completed a service design project ending with design criteria as a final deliverable to our clients; we redesigned the system of Nespresso Vertuoline single-serve coffee machine; we developed our own social entrepreneurial businesses; and finally, we are prototyping and developing a framework of methodologies in product management of our banking app wireframes; last bust not least, our capstone groups are creating our end-to-end-solutions and piloting MVPs of in the the problem space of college persistence among non-traditional students.

All this to say, time has flown, we’ve been holding our breaths, and now we have a second to reflect on our regenerated thoughts about the purpose of design and the way we talk about it.

It’s no mistake that the first section of the course focuses on “with best intentions.” We covered some similar conversations as in our previous theory course, diving into critical rhetoric about appropriateness and the user’s real interests and needs.

I had 3 particular takeaways that spans across synthesis and the point of views of all of the authors we’ve read (however I will only quote some here).

Information is convenient when it is pleasant but untrue, but it is discomforting information is true but unpleasant.

“When you give the average person an infinite reservoir of human wisdom, they will not Google for the higher truth that contradicts their own convictions. They will not Google for what is true yet unpleasant. Instead, most of us will Google for what is pleasant but untrue.”

-Mark Manson

Mark Manson argues the internet has fucked us over and and is doubtful that we can become “unfucked.” So how do we get a person who donate to Red Cross to understand that the Red Cross isn’t actually doing a good job of building homes and communities to lift Haitian families out of the cycle of poverty after the earthquake in 2010?

The dominant versus the subordinate.

When American western culture made its way to the middle east (note that this is colonialism that resembles the European colonialism in 19th century) it brought with it the complexity of popular culture, ideology, and the symbolism that comes with both. Since the 1970s a tumultuous interplay of power dynamics and reactionary fundamentalism has led to the war-torn tribalism that is strangling the middle east today. I can’t really speak to whether or not politicians and businessmen went into the middle east with good intentions—I would make an educated guess that most were interested in globalism, power and riches with the excuse of capitalism. But with them came miniskirts and empowerment for women.

women-kabul2

“Organizations love to talk about bringing the user’s voice into the conversation, yet if it’s just to retrofit an existing growth strategy, it’s morally bankrupt, and in a connected society, a very poor strategy.”

– Jan Chipchase

It’s foolish to think that introducing the miniskirt, or more currently relevant, introducing technology, is the answer to the problems facing middle eastern culture. A valid argument suggests that designers should not be meddling in the middle east at all. That we should stay away. It’s not our job to decide what quality of life is like, what culture is like and what education is like.

Design for all, not just for good.

Since the mid 2000s designers started talking about design for good and human-centered design. In principle, these terms help me understand what I want my designs to do. But I’m not all designers, and I interpret good differently than others that have much more power than myself. PR for big corporations sees design for good as a face for the company. Non-profits and governments see design for good as problem solving for particular wicked problems. These perspectives focus so much on the victims and the marginalized that it fails to see the ecosystem that it needs to support in equity and justice.

Below are several visuals from John Maeda’s design/tech report from this year.

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We have erroneously reversed the value directionality in design for good. The immediate, predictable value of these initiatives is likely to come to the designers rather than to the objects of their work—the recipients of ‘good.’”

– Jayeet Pal

We came to AC4D because, selfishly, we want more out of our work and we want to feel successful in our work life. I can’t speak for my grandparents, but I reckon they didn’t have the same opportunities and world views we do today when we think about our careers and the impact we have. If we want to sit down on a chair the day after we retire and feel good about what we’ve done with our careers, then we need to start thinking about how our legacy lives on and the results and sustainability of the things we make.

Ideal State Wireframes Meet Feasibility and Constraints

 

In our product management course we are building off our banking app wireframes we developed in quarter 3. As of yet, we have been encouraged to explore with very few limitations outside of what our instructor wanted our core functionalities to be. This quarter we are learning the beginning steps of bringing the product to market by putting our designs under the developing lens and estimating what should and should not be built for an MVP.

For assignment 1 we were asked to visualize our features, the screens in those features, controls and components of those screens, and a breakdown of what the user goes through. Below are my flows redlined as they were before reworking the app based on the developer’s feedback. During assignment 2 I will be redesigning these flows to better suit an MVP, while keeping the north star in mind. You will see a legend for the pages (feature flows in magenta, controls in red, and breakdown in black text).

 

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Estimating

Sizing with a developer is meticulous but it is essential in pulling back the reigns on my product and really grounding it in reality. After meeting with a developer I got a rough idea of how long the app would take to develop based on his interpretation of the screens and components I shared. Not many of the estimates were very large for any given screen I estimated in total the coding wouldn’t take more than a couple weeks. I will be taking my critiques from the dev and thin slicing my hero flows into more concise and cleaner MVP flows.

In summary the front-end development would take

256 man hours

32 days

6.4 weeks

Below is a detailed spreadsheet of estimates.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1eKqPIVbVNtx1Oq4U88pco0yEn0pGBRfMaIRWlVcxKoc/edit?usp=sharing

The developer also gave my really good recommendations for redesigns based on his knowledge of HIG and I will be implementing them into the next iteration of apps that I will be sharing out after assignment 2.

 

Integrating Financial Modeling Into Banking : Learnings From Prototyping And User Testing

Context:

Designing Digital Interfaces is by far the most tech heavy class we’ve experienced in our three quarters of study. Previously, our use of design software was based on deliverables for projects that weren’t digital products. So, we taught ourselves Adobe Illustrator and Sketch at our own pace and learned to use it in our own creative processes. For Chrissy Cowdry’s course we are all learning the standardized (albeit constantly changing) methods of wireframing and prototyping, and applying them towards mobile bank app redesigns. Our research methodologies and service design aptitudes are coming into play heavily whilst re-thinking an existing app. At the same time, the skills we are learning in this course are becoming handy in all of our other courses where we are being asked to make shit, and make shit fast.

The second portion of the class is to integrate financial modeling features into our traditional banking apps. The product must include:

  1. A financial snapshot interface
  2. A way to check on anomalous transactions
  3. A “what if” scenario for spending decisions
  4. A feature to help you decide how much is safe to spend at any given time.

My Approach:

Having very limited experience with finance analytics tools was a disadvantage for me and I needed to do some secondary research to inform what I would want to see in my product.

I had signed up for an Intuit Mint account to track my budget and spendings when I became a student with meager savings 7 months ago when I started at AC4D. I spent thirty minutes setting it up, and I haven’t looked at it since—until a week ago when I investigated how things were looking. While I know I’ve done a decent job of self-restraint over the past months, my Mint account didn’t give me a clear picture of where my money is being spent. I was particularly confused by the budgeting categories and transactions that were being grouped under them. There was a haphazard doctor appointment under groceries. And my city bus tickets were going towards financial spending?

 

I decided that organizing clean and specific parameters around my budgeting categories, as well as informing the product that, for ex. my bus tickets are actually a transportation spending, would be the quickest route to finding clarity and getting the most out of the tool.

After toying around with the app I grew frustrated that there was no way for me to tell the product that not just one, but ALL of my payments to Capital Metro, are bus tickets, in the past and in the future. I decided that since this was secondary research and I wasn’t in the field to do this testing, I would bring at least one subject matter expert to help find the solution to my probably.

So I opened a customer support chat with Mint and chatted with Stephon for a few minutes. I was disappointed to hear that, indeed, I can’t make rules for payees from the mobile app. Stephon instructed me to navigate to the web app to perform this task. Screen Shot 2019-02-05 at 1.44.13 PM

Stephon sent me a list of instructions and I taught the computer how I wanted my transactions and payees to be organized.

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I didn’t find this particularly delightful or effective, so I decided that designing a more efficient rule-making feature for budgeting would be the first step to my new redesigns.

Designs and User Feedback:

I made wireframes for several scenarios and satisfied the features that the assignment required within those scenarios.

Scenario 1: The user gets an alert that they’ve gone way over on their transportation budget and they are prompted to investigate the cause and solve the problem. In this case the user sees that their Delta flight purchase needs to be better categorized and so they go through a once-and-done process so that the app will be smarter at sorting payees in the future. WellsFargo_FinancialModel_Deck (7)

Scenario 2: The user is saving up for a trip to Rome and realizes that they are behind the timeline they expected. From the financial “snapshot” landing page, the user is asked to find two ways to adjust their savings and spending guidelines to expedite their savings for Rome. In this case the user is able to manipulate the “what if” spendings feature to decide to cut down on eating out at restaurants. Additionally the user can adjust the percentage of their monthly savings they are committing to Rome by de-prioritizing the shoes and motorcycle they were also saving up for.

WellsFargo_FinancialModel_Deck (8)

In this deck I talk about the responses I got from users during testing:

WellsFargo_FinancialModel_Deck (2)

WellsFargo_FinancialModel_Deck (3)

WellsFargo_FinancialModel_Deck (4)

WellsFargo_FinancialModel_Deck (5)

WellsFargo_FinancialModel_Deck (6)

Learnings:

Wireframing for this assignment was tiresome and more ambiguous than the previous redesign of the banking app itself. It was more difficult to find a cohesive user flow and making symbols consistent throughout the wide-ranging capabilities the product was confusing.

From my users I have come away with several key insights to reflect on and use to build my next iteration.

  1. As a designer, don’t overcompensate in complexity because you started off not understanding something. Instead a designer should better use their resources and spend more time studying users. 
  2. I assumed that everyone wants full accessibility on their mobile apps, whereas my participants expressed that they wouldn’t find themselves doing these tasks  on-the-go. Banking and financing isn’t something users necessarily do on the subway or at lunch. 
  3. A tutorial for first-time-use would be of benefit. I had conversations with multiple users in which I heard that they are used to having to tinker around with apps to familiarize themselves.
  4. A good app should be simple enough to be understood by someone who is new to finance and sophisticated enough for a weathered expert. Financial wellness is a trending topic and someone who is just starting to make money should have the same access and understanding to manage their income and investments as someone who has had money and saved money for decades. 

 

Non-Traditional College Advising: As Sensemaking Becomes Action Taking

Context:

The class is already halfway through our capstone projects for the AC4D graduating class of 2019. Up until quarter three the coursework has focused on versing ourselves in the methods that make for good design research, insights and empathy-building within a problem space. Then, how do we communicate the emotional truths we believe our findings support in a way that motivates action. Sensemaking never stop during the interaction design process, nor does it stop in the life of a social enterprise.

Our coursework now adds the next layer, focusing on testing design ideas and validating whether or not our solutions are actionable, impactful—solutions that humans would actually use. Through user testing and iterative repetition we continue to reflect on our research, the sense we’ve made, and the sense we’ve just proven wrong by prototyping a product or a service that users don’t yet believe in.

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Our Problem space:

Our research team (Zev Powell, Adam Niederpruem, and Cristina Suazo) has focused on how college advisors can be more effective ambassadors for their non-traditional students throughout college persistence.

The research deviates from the rest of the student groups as our focus is advisor-centered rather than student-centered. We’ve come to see advisors as influencers that can help unpack the obstacles of student success. In various organizations their caseloads range anywhere between 50 to 200 students each. We believe that if we can build effective products in the advising space, we will touch the lives of countless students.

Design Research Takeaways:

– Advising isn’t getting to the students that need it.

– Advisors struggle to communicate to non-traditional students that all obstacles in their lives—little and big—are relevant to academic success.

– Advisors need to capture sustained awareness of student’s personal needs, including financial and mental health.

Ideation & Prototyping:

The last several weeks we’ve gone through a rigorous ideation process. Coming up with ideas is fun. Down-selecting is less fun. Our group experienced some personal conflict that ended up being one of the biggest learning experiences for us: Rapid ideation comes after months of tedious research. We were attached to the truth of our data and the insights and criteria we pulled from them. It felt weird to let loose and trust our instinct to reach meaningful design ideas by just blurting them out and scribbling them down.

How were we to check in with ourselves and make sure our ideas were defensible and really tackled the problems we saw in our research? We finished last week with five design ideas that we put into storyboard format. We had our doubts. Here are three of them:

 

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  1. Skill Stock prepares students to see their own skillsets in a new way.
  2. College Of Forking Paths is a choose-your-own-adventure exercise that helps advisors, alongside their advisees, unpack the difficult decision-making that happens during college.
  3. A mental health gauge that helps keep advisors up to date on the wellbeing of their students.

Since the end of our design research in December we had been cooped up in studio moving utterances and post-its, drawing concept maps, and getting progressively more and more worried about the direction of our project. That was until this week when we invited one of our local partners, Andrea Guengerich of Breakthrough Central Texas, for a validation test of our unique value propositions.

User Testing:

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Andrea’s response was re-energizing. She got emotional just seeing our working space and the quotes on the walls, so much so that we are arranging another time for more Breakthrough staff to go through a similar tour. She echoed what AC4D emphasizes. We do what subject matter experts don’t have time to do.

During a co-creation exercise where we had her organize some of our insights she got to telling stories about her students that she mentors. We had interviewed Andrea back in November, yet this time we were getting a whole other level of empathy. The co-creation inspired us all.

“I was on a campus visit with a student and we had to go to five different offices in one day to get him the support he needed… Afterwards we went and sat down in the cafeteria to decompress and it took a whole hour. When I asked him if he was ready to start filling out his FAFSA he said, ‘you must be crazy.'”

When presenting our product demos we strategically revealed few details so that we could get her responses to the foundational purpose of the value propositions. At a high level, were they any good? We heard an astounding yes across the board.

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Results:

To our surprise Andrea is looking to find ways to demo our products with Breakthrough throughout the duration of our AC4D course. Adam and Cristina are working on prototypes to test with advisors and students. Zev is rushing to see if he can get a good-enough choose-your-own-adventure demo for Andrea to test on her upcoming campus visits with her students in Dallas.

Looking Forward: 

While we received positive feedback from Andrea we are going to be constantly putting our prototypes in front of people with a skeptical eye so that our ideas can be challenged, so that we can fail fast, and so that the next iteration of our products will be better than the last.

Check in with us at the end of each week for updates on our many mini failures (and hopefully a few successes).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Testing UI Hypotheses in the Field: Wells Fargo Mobile App Redesign

When Chrissy first assigned us this user testing project she told us to block out hour-long chunks of time with participants to go through the scenario flows of our banking app redesigns. I have six flows and couldn’t imagine why in the world it would take a whole hour to do these simple tasks. I was VERY wrong. On average it took me 60 minutes to get through half of my workflows. It’s surprising how value can be assigned to almost anything when it is being investigated. Users seem to put a lot more thought into simple digital actions when they see how it relates to their everyday interactions with technology. And they aren’t shy to spend an hour talking about it.

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In testing my research hypotheses I came across some consistent pain points and several takeaways. I will focus on 2 in this post.

  • Language Matters.
  • Users should be able to make the decisions they want to as early as possible during a flow.

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Language should always infer the action that can be taken by performing a task. This becomes difficult when you are using a noun not a verb. Several users brought to my attention the vagueness of “Payee Contact.” As a researcher I could only ask “what do you think it means?” Without breaking character I was able to glean some missteps and misuse of words. In the above case I wanted that form to indicate that you could search your phone contacts as payees.

A user shouldn’t have to stray far from the origin of their task before they feel like they’ve made the core decisions they need to make in that task. This should inform the flow and develop a hierarchy of what order processes should be taken. If the designer fails to do this, the user can become lost and uncertain, as well as feel surprised that something important comes up so late in the process.

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On several occasions I made this mistake.

Bank app users should:

  • Be able to indicate early in a transfer flow whether the money will be transferred between their own accounts or elsewhere.
  • When paying a friend the user should be able to indicate early on if they are requesting or paying money (something I failed to do if the user is requesting money).
  • When paying a new bill the user should be able to choose early on whether it is a one-time payment or a payment they wish to schedule in the future and have a recurring system for the bill.

One of my hypotheses was that I could eliminate nesting options and drop downs by using simple and bold iconography. In particular I was inspired by the ANZ banking app’s transfer interface. However I found a lot of users confused by the visuals and I’ve gone through some iterating below and going forward I will be looking for continued feedback as I develop this feature.

Original Transfer Flow:

Transfer Revised Flow: